His career is full of material. He started as a sales clerk in his father’s downtown Washington record store, stumbled through his first security start-up and now operates a $20 million-a-year Germantown commercial-security business.
His 10-year-old company has the unmemorable name of Genesis Security Systems. Kruglak’s firm installs and services alarms, cameras and “proximity” cards that open your office door. It even supplies gadgets that read your eyeball to ensure you are who you say you are.
Clients include the World Bank, SAIC, General Dynamics and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The average customer job size at Genesis is around $40,000, but projects can range from $10,000 to millions. About 80 percent of the business is in the Washington market, but some projects are as far away as Canada and even Poland.
Kruglak said the company’s profitability — which stems mostly from its lucrative service contracts — is due in large part to the lessons he’s learned building other companies.
Lesson 1: Focus on the customer, not the profit.
Kruglak, 58, began his business career in the 1960s selling record albums in his father’s music store at the corner of 12th and G streets NW in Washington.
When he wasn’t manning the cash register and calculating sales tax in his head, he was figuring out why customers buy things.
“We would ask them, ‘If you like this musician, have you looked at Crosby Stills and Nash’s latest acoustic album?’ ” Kruglak said. “It is really basic selling.”
In the security industry, where customers are often inexperienced when it comes to technology, Kruglak said he uses the same sales technique he learned in the record store. Look them in the eye, establish trust, and don’t push anything on them they don’t want or need. They will keep coming back.
When one security customer wanted $200,000 worth of restroom door locks, Kruglak told her it was a waste. She bought it anyway.
After growing up in Chevy Chase as the youngest of four sons of a serial entrepreneur, Kruglak attended the University of Wisconsin and received dual master’s degrees in environmental management and public policy from Duke University.
He went to work at Booz Allen in 1979, spent a year in South Africa working for a security systems company and eventually rejoined the family business in 1980.
By then, the record store had been long shuttered. The family business had migrated to an electronics company called Glen Industrial Communications, named for his oldest brother.
Understand the numbers.
GIC made modest profits selling cameras to federal government customers such as the FBI and State Department.